The Real Johnny Appleseed

Book Description

In the fall of 1774, John Chap­man, the man who would become known as John­ny Apple­seed, was born in Leo­min­is­ter, Mass­a­chu­setts. He may not have been the man of leg­end, but his is a remark­able sto­ry nonethe­less. Lau­rie Lawlor uses land records, cen­sus data, and local his­to­ries to recount his post-Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War efforts to plant and grow apple trees through­out the ter­ri­to­ries, a goal that would become his life’s work.

Reviews and Comments

“Lawlor’s clear nar­ra­tive style and impec­ca­ble schol­ar­ship com­bine to make this biog­ra­phy of John Chap­man an out­stand­ing choice. In four short chap­ters, her sub­jec­t’s adven­tures, the excit­ing peri­od of fron­tier expan­sion dur­ing which he lived, and the north­ern area of the coun­try through which he trav­eled come alive. Dis­count­ing the folk­tales of John­ny Apple­seed’s extra­or­di­nary feats of strength and sur­vival and his eccen­tric­i­ties, the author cites instead his busi­ness acu­men, his fond­ness for chil­dren and books, his friend­ly co-exis­tence with sev­er­al tribes of Native Amer­i­cans, and his zeal in spread­ing the ideas of Emmanuel Swe­den­borg (e.g., “every per­son must be a help to oth­ers in need”). Illus­tra­tions are 19th-cen­tu­ry wood­cuts and wood engrav­ings, along with sev­er­al cre­at­ed espe­cial­ly for this book. This attrac­tive title belongs in every col­lec­tion.” (School Library Jour­nal)

“Best known as an Amer­i­can folk­lore hero, John­ny Apple­seed was a real per­son named John Chap­man. When Chap­man turned 21, his rest­less but coura­geous spir­it enabled him to leave his fam­i­ly and trav­el hun­dreds of miles through­out the Mid­west­ern fron­tier, plant­i­ng apple seeds and cul­ti­vat­ing apple tree nurs­eries. This well-researched biog­ra­phy pro­vides in-depth insight into Chap­man’s char­ac­ter, details his exten­sive trav­els (which last­ed more than 50 years), out­lines his con­tri­bu­tions to Amer­i­can hor­ti­cul­ture, and offers pos­si­ble rea­sons for his leg­endary sta­tus. Orig­i­nal wood engrav­ings and nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry wood­cuts enhance an infor­ma­tive, read­able book that will be use­ful for assign­ments, and will also be enjoyed by read­ers who want to learn more about this real-life hero. Fur­ther read­ing; exten­sive bib­li­og­ra­phy.” (Book­list)

“More leg­ends than facts are gen­er­al­ly known about John­ny Apple­seed. This book begins with the birth of John Chap­man and gives the facts about this Amer­i­can hero. He led a fas­ci­nat­ing life and expe­ri­enced first-hand the birth and west­ward move­ment of our coun­try. An excel­lent biog­ra­phy for chil­dren.” (Par­en­t’s Coun­cil)

The Real Johnny Appleseed

writ­ten by Lau­rie Lawlor
illus­trat­ed by Mary Thomp­son
Albert Whit­man, 1995

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